Lidia Thorpe blows up at ABC host Patricia Karvelas for calling Linda Burnie a legend

Former Greens senator Lidia Thorpe has confronted ABC host Patricia Karvelas over her tweet calling Indigenous affairs minister Linda Burney a ‘legend’ in an ugly on-air clash.

In May, Karvelas tweeted an election night picture of herself with the Labor cabinet minister in charge of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, with the caption ‘This woman is a legend.’

But in an awkward fiery interview on Radio National on Thursday morning, the independent Indigenous senator fired back at Karvelas: ‘I don’t hear you calling me a legend’.

‘You’re out there saying, “Burney’s a legend” – so we know where your allegiances lie,’ she snapped. ‘You’ve got to stop setting black women up against one another.’

Former Greens senator Lidia Thorpe has confronted ABC host Patricia Karvelas (left) over her tweet calling Indigenous affairs minister Linda Burney (right) a ‘legend’ in an ugly on-air spat

Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe (pictured) fired back at Patricia Karvelas: 'I don't hear you calling me a legend'

Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe (pictured) fired back at Patricia Karvelas: ‘I don’t hear you calling me a legend’

Karvelas escaped with a slap on the wrist from ABC bosses over the ‘Legend’ tweet and was defended by ABC Managing Director David Anderson in November. 

He told the Senate Estimates hearing he did not believe the post damaged the ABC’s ‘reputation for impartiality and independence’ and said there was no ‘political bias’.

Staff were warned about the use of social media in 2021 after several defamation cases involving senior journalists and the ABC admitted last month it had ‘cautioned’ Ms Karvelas over the post.

On Thursday, Ms Thorpe repeatedly referred to the tweet throughout a 13-minute interview on Radio National.

‘You’ve mentioned a few times this word “legend” which is a play on me,’ said Karvelas as the interview drew to a close. 

‘I get it, that’s fine, but I do have a question about that. 

‘Given Linda Burney was the first Aboriginal woman to enter the NSW Parliament and the first Aboriginal woman to enter the lower house in federal parliament, does that not make her a legend?’

Ms Thorpe replied: ‘Brilliant. Absolutely. That’s the media lens on a legend black woman I absolutely agree with.’

But she added: ‘Your tone is very different when you interview me and that’s got to change.’ 

The row over the tweet blew up as Ms Thorpe was quizzed by Karvelas over the impact a No vote in the referendum would have on the progress of Indigenous rights.

Ms Thorpe quit the Greens to be an independent on the crossbenches fighting for the ‘Black sovereign movement’ and demanding a treaty before the Voice.

At one stage the pair talked over each other and Ms Thorpe snapped: ‘You don’t want the progressives to hear this, do you PK?

‘You need to allow the your audiences to understand that there is a progressive No, and we’re not focusing on the day after the referendum. 

‘We’re focusing on survival today.’

She told Karvelas she has yet to make a final decision on supporting the Voice, but branded it impotent and questioned: ‘Why is everyone so excited?

‘We deserve better than a powerless Voice,’ she said. ‘We need a treaty. We want real power. We want real justice in this country. 

‘Everything else we’ve been offered for the last 200 years has no power.’

Patricia Karvelas (pictured) escaped with a slap on the wrist from ABC bosses over the 'Legend' tweet and was defended by ABC Managing Director David Anderson in November

Patricia Karvelas (pictured) escaped with a slap on the wrist from ABC bosses over the ‘Legend’ tweet and was defended by ABC Managing Director David Anderson in November

Senator Lidia Thorpe (pictured) quit the Greens to be an independent on the crossbenches fighting for the 'Black sovereign movement' and demanding a treaty before the Voice

Senator Lidia Thorpe (pictured) quit the Greens to be an independent on the crossbenches fighting for the ‘Black sovereign movement’ and demanding a treaty before the Voice

She said it was ‘systemic racism’ to argue that she might ‘end up on the side with Peter Dutton and the Liberals’ if she opposes the Voice.

‘It troubles me that white progressives use that as an excuse,’ she said.

‘That’s part of the problem that, you know, if you vote no you’re going to stand with Peter Dutton or Pauline Hanson.

‘So that’s another way of taking away the voice of those grassroots black fellas who have a progressive no that the white progressives don’t want to hear.

‘And that’s part of the problem – that’s systemic racism right there, and everyone’s “hand on heart, let’s save the Aborigines, let’s give them a voice, let’s give them advisory power”, with no power.’

She said it was a ‘sad state of affairs’ that white Australians would ultimately make the decision that impacts First Nations people.

Ms Thorpe said the voices of Indigenous people risked being drowned out by the ‘loud’ yes campaign, bankrolled by corporate Australia.

‘It is going to be a lot louder than those grassroots black fellas on the ground who have very serious issues with the proposal,’ she said.

‘And that’s a shame because at the end of the day, we are only three per cent (of the population).

‘So it’s the progressives in this country that will make the decision for us ultimately, and that’s a sad state of affairs that white progressives think they know best for us.

‘They think that this is a good thing for us, but they haven’t dug deep enough and allowed those grassroots black activists to have a say.’

She said the most pressing matter was to immediately implement findings of the royal commissions.

‘If Labor are fair dinkum and Burney is such a legend, then implement those recommendations and save people’s lives today,’ she said.

Senator Thorpe refused to speculate on how much closer she would be to her aims if the referendum fails. 

‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,’ she said. ‘I’m not giving anything to anybody until I see justice in this country for our people.

‘What the progressives don’t understand is that we’re still attending funerals every day, while everyone is telling us how great the Voice is going to be for us. 

‘It is still not too late, it’s still not too late to question what this Voice actually means for us. It has no power.’

Senator Lidia Thorpe (pictured) repeatedly referred to Karvelas's 'legend' tweet throughout a 13-minute interview on Radio National

Senator Lidia Thorpe (pictured) repeatedly referred to Karvelas’s ‘legend’ tweet throughout a 13-minute interview on Radio National

Senator Thorpe¿s comments come as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prepares to launch his Yes campaign in Adelaide on Thursday night

Senator Thorpe’s comments come as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prepares to launch his Yes campaign in Adelaide on Thursday night 

She said she had written to the Prime Minister about meeting with the referendum working group, saying that she wanted to bring her views to the table.

‘I feel that the PM is talking in you know, forked tongues, basically,’ she said.

‘He’s saying to the conservatives, “Look, it’s okay everybody. It has no power. We will have the ultimate power. They’re just an advisory body.”

‘Then he goes to the black people and he says, “This is going to save the world, this is going to save the culture”.’

Ms Thorpe’s comments come as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prepares to launch his Yes campaign in Adelaide on Thursday night.

He has indicated the referendum will be held between October and December this year, and if successful, a body would be legislated by the end of this term of government.

The Greens support the voice, while the Nationals do not and the Liberal Party has yet to reach a final decision.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Karvelas and senator Thorpe for comment.

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